Mike Aquilina

Occult Classic

Saturday March 08th 2008, 3:07 am

Jim Davila points us to an unusual new title, The Occult Sciences in Byzantium, edited by Paul Magdalino and Maria Mavroudi. Its primary focus seems to be alchemy and astrology, as precursors to modern sciences.

This volume represents the first attempt to examine occult sciences as a distinct category of Byzantine intellectual culture. It is concerned with both the reality and the image of the occult sciences in Byzantium, and seeks, above all, to represent them in their social and cultural context as a historical phenomenon. The eleven essays demonstrate that Byzantium was not marginal to the scientific culture of the Middle Ages, and that the occult sciences were not marginal to the learned culture of the medieval Byzantine world.